Phenomena

The Leidenfrost Dunk

The Leidenfrost effect occurs when a liquid is exposed to a surface so hot that it instantly vaporizes part of the liquid. It’s typically seen with a drop of water on a very hot pan; the drop will slide around, nearly frictionless, upon a cushion of its own vapor. You can see the effect when plunging a hot object into a bath of liquid, too. This is what happens when you quickly dunk a hand in liquid nitrogen (not recommended, incidentally) or when you drop a red hot steel ball into water like above. In this case, the object is so hot that it gets encased in a layer of water vapor. If you could maintain the temperature difference necessary to keep the vapor layer intact, you could move underwater at high speeds with low drag, similar to the effects of supercavitation. (Image credit: Paul Pyro, source)

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